Every four years, the best weavers from16 city-states came together with the skills and fibers of their region to weave a new dress for Athena. From the Acropolis, she watched over the weaving and the wars of ancient Greece; this peplos was a stunning thing carried through the streets in a high festival, promoting peace among diverse peoples. Peace through a fine new dress, I'm saying, and by way of the women who wove it.
Why don't we do that?? I've been thinking. Why don't we ask the best weavers and embroiderers and beaders from all over the world to bring their skills and fibers to the table and create a new dress for the world? A World Dress. A dress that shines with the brilliance of each region, but holds together with the same pattern, the same shape, the same intent?
Many months ago, I fell hard for this idea. Our design team went to work drafting a pattern of perfect fit and proportions. Expert clothier and designer, Erin Reitz, came to work with us on these multiple stages of fine tuning until at last we had a shape that sang with a collar or without, long to the ankle or to the knee, belted or not . . . and ready to receive the textile music of the world: embroidery, beading, woven detail, appliqué, ikat, soutache, kantha stitches, felting, even hand-painting.
Jamie Buskey and Ellen Gilchrist of our Design Team collaborated with the women pictured above in India, El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Pakistan, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Colombia, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Turkey to design their own perfect rendering of the World Dress. The results are staggeringly diverse, original, and well . . . may I say, stunning? Each dress embodies the heritage of the woman who made it, allowing the wearer to enter her world, know her name, belong to a much larger vision of what women can accomplish together.
On March 8, in honor of International Women's Day, the World Dress will debut in a runway show - not through the streets of Athens - but through the stunning galleries of the Gibbes Museum in Charleston; debuting online the following day. Women artisans and leaders from near and far will join us, like the 16 women rising to the Acropolis.
If you are nearby, I suggest you snag your ticket now here and bring your friends - tickets are limited and going fast and carry an insider's price until February 15. And if you live in other regions, join us through our Social Media @ibumovement for up-to-the-minute reports from the show, the newest looks, the behind the scenes - and join the energy of this high festive day elevating International Women. Here's to the powerful peace of Athena's peplos; here's to the combustion of women's fiery energies everywhere; here's to disrupting poverty . . . and fashioning change.
With anticipation and joy,
Susan Hull Walker